If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Princess Bride,” you’ll know any number of quotes from it. In this case, I’m thinking of Vizzini, who keeps lisping “Inconceivable!” every time something happens that he thinks shouldn’t. Finally, as he watches The Man in Black (Wesley) climbing The Cliffs of Insanity, he lisps “Inconceivable!” one last time. Inigo Montoyo looks at him and, in his heavy Spanish accent, delivers the great line, “You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
“Like” is one of those words. Think grade school. “Does she like me?” Or “Of course I like you! I mean, not like that, but we’re friends, right?” Ah, clarity!
Love is even tougher. Just what are we saying when we use that word? Is it that hormone rush when you’re physically attracted to someone? Is it lust? Is it a powerful emotion? English is not the best language when it comes to nuance. So let’s forget emotion, lust, and attraction. Take those away, and what do we have?
Love. And that’s still vague. I love my friend’s wife. Is that adultery? No. I don’t want to possess her. She’s a great friend, a great person. I haven’t got any romantic feelings for her, but I feel for her all the same. I love my friend. I admire him and would do most anything for him. Am I homosexual? No. But I love him all the same.
Let’s return to The Princess Bride. While there a several sub-plots and a lot of things going on, the movie is really about just one thing: True Love. For True Love, Wesley leaves Buttercup behind to carve out a life to bring her to. For True Love, she understands and awaits his return. But, upon word that he was killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts, she agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck (the bad guy).
Wesley, having become the next Dread Pirate Roberts after the last one retired, returns to find Buttercup. He is angry with her for forsaking Wesley. Still disguised as the Pirate, he berates her: “Tell me, madam. Out of respect for the dead did you wait a whole week before your engagement?”
Shortly afterward, he is revealed to her as Wesley. She apologizes for her engagement, “…but I thought you were dead.” Smiling at her, he says, “Death cannot overcome True Love.” Although not intended, I see something Messianic there.
Not even death could overcome True Love. Jesus rose from the grave, so great was His love and the Father’s. And Jesus doesn’t love us because we’re attractive or sexy. He loves us, because He CHOOSES to. The people He ministered to were the dregs of society. They were ugly physically, emotionally, socially, morally… Think of a negative –ly word, and that’s who Jesus spent His time with. From where I sit, it wasn’t easy.
Even His disciples tried to get Him to avoid certain people and places. “Get the kids outa here! Quit bothering the Master!” “Make that whore stop kissing your feet!” “Don’t open Lazarus’ grave – he stinks by now!” Yet Jesus chose to keep on loving. Even on the Mount of Olives, He prayed to His Father to find another way and let Him off the hook for all of the suffering He knew was coming. And when the Father said “No”, He chose to perform the greatest act of love ever. He CHOSE.
One of my favorite Shakespearean sonnets is Sonnet 116, especially the following lines:
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
So, when your spouse has grown old and wrinkly and lies at death’s door on “the edge of doom,” you will continue to love that person and care for him or her to the very end. True Love appreciates the “rosy lips and cheeks,” but bears it out past those winsome days. Anything else is just flowing wherever our hormonal winds blow us. And, if we surrender to those, how are we different from a pack of dogs, humping whatever we can climb on to?
Why is divorce so prevalent? Do we marry for True Love? Once married for whatever reason, do we choose to be human beings with the willpower to choose True Love or just be another mutt in the pack? Look at reasons given for divorce, and you’ll see a laundry list of how “I’m not getting out of this marriage what I think I should.”
Let’s look at the so-called Love Chapter, I Corinthians 13 verses 4-7:
4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
These behaviors of love are not always what are driven by sheer emotion. Given our sinful, selfish nature, it should be quite apparent that these are not what we come to naturally. These are choices that True Love makes. Consciously. Deliberately. Painfully.
Are you mad at your spouse and are thinking about divorce? Have you considered whether your love to that person has been True Love or selfishness which only wants that person to fulfill your needs? And before you even start wondering how your partner stands up to that question, forget about it. True Love doesn’t ask that question. It only asks how its owner stacks up. It wants True Love from the other, but doesn’t require it. It loves too much for that. It seeks to draw True Love out of the other by example, by earning it.
True Love. Not easy, not even natural. But it is beautiful!